Ernemen's belief growing strong
It's not often that Ulster teams find themselves in contention for national hurling trophies but the improving health of the sport at a lower tier continues to show the province in a favourable light.
Fermanagh issued their declaration of intent in relation to the Lory Meagher Cup by overcoming Leitrim by 3-16 to 1-9 at the week-end, thus embellishing the belief that they can go on to even better things in the competition.
And Donegal have already made it clear that they have no intention of parting company with the Nicky Rackard Cup by the emphatic manner in which they disposed of Monaghan (3-26 to 0-15).
For Fermanagh, progress in the Lory Meagher Cup certainly testifies to the hard work being done by their small but utterly dedicated band of hurling aficionados.
While not too much will be read into the handsome win over Leitrim given the paucity of the opposition and the fact that they had James Clancy sent off, nonetheless the small ball game is acquiring rather better status within the Erne county.
In players like Sean Corrigan, Ryan Bogue, John Duffy and Declan McGarry, Fermanagh have solid competitors and if they can sustain their current level, then the team will not be easily halted.
Similarly, Donegal have shown that they are anxious to retain the fresh status they have earned for themselves under the firm leadership of Ray Durack, even though they lost their preliminary round tie to Roscommon.
Their progress is in marked contrast to the problems currently facing their weekend opponents Monaghan, who encountered difficulty in fielding a viable team.
Ciaran Matthewson, Danny Cullen and Sean McVeigh all landed Donegal's goals while Conor Boyle did his utmost to epitomise Monaghan's resistance by pocketing 11 out of their total of 15 scores.
Wicklow beat Kildare in their Christy Ring Cup replay, which means they will now meet Armagh in the next qualifying round of the competition and the winners of this contest will then face Derry in the following phase.
Armagh lost to Mayo in their opening round of the competition last week.